Published On: Tue, Apr 28th, 2020

MP Brison: “Central Bank has not done near enough”

MP Rolando Brison - 20200427

PHILIPSBURG – “The Central bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten has not done near enough to assist the people of St. Maarten,” chairman of parliament MP Rolando Brison said during the meeting of parliament about the 2020 budget. “It is crucial that they come through now.”

Brison reacted to the criticism he received over his letter to Central Bank president José Jardim in which he pushed for action within two weeks to help soften the blow of the COVID-19 crisis for St. Maarten.

Brison said that the Central Bank does most of the work for putting together the budget of Curacao. “How much assistance did our minister get?” he asked.

Brison referred to an article in the local media about a meeting former Finance Minister Perry Geerlings held with the Central bank and Parman Group owner Hushang Ansary. Geerlings said in this article that the Central Bank can respond if the minister of finance appeals to it for help.

He asked current Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion to reveal the contents of Geerling’s meeting with Ansary and the Central Bank.

Furthermore, Brison asked the minister what other sources of funding are available if financial assistance from the Netherlands does not come through. “Tell me what the options are.”

Brison criticized the Central Bank’s position on St. Maarten’s desire to have its own development bank. “Curacao has three development banks. When I asked Jardim once his opinion if St. Maarten wanted to establish such a bank he said that he would advise against it because that bank would compete with commercial banks,” Brison said.

MP Christophe EmmanuelMP Christophe Emmanuel said that Finance Minister Irion is “the boss” of Central Bank president Jardim. However, Jardim is not under the direction of the finance minister; he answers to the Central Bank’s supervisory board.

Emmanuel said the time is opportune for St. Maarten to secede from the Central Bank – in other words, to step out of the monetary union with Curacao. “We need to grow some balls and demand what we want.” The MP said that St. Maarten “already has the building and the experts” and that the country can have its own central bank.

Emmanuel furthermore wanted to know what percentage of the Central Bank belongs to St. Maarten.

The ownership of the bank is based on a so-called division-key. StMaartenNews.com reported at the end of January – based on information obtained from the Central Bank – that this key is calculated based in equal parts on each country’s gross domestic product and its number of inhabitants. The key is reviewed once every five years. Since January 1, 2016, Curacao’s share in the bank is 79.04 percent and St. Maarten’s share is 20.96 percent. A new key will be established per January 1, 2021.

Between 2011 and 2018 Curacao received $40.4 million of the bank’s profits and St. Maarten received $10.8 million.

Emmanuel also addressed the 1 percent foreign exchange fee. “That money goes somewhere but it belongs to St. Maarten,” he said. In fact, the foreign exchange fee local banks collect goes already directly to the treasury in St. Maarten.

###

Relevant links:
Acting President of CBCS attends introductory meeting with Mr. Ansary
Search Lion’s share of Central Bank profits stays in Curacao
MP Brison speaking during budget debate on Monday, April 27, 2020
2020 draft budget debate Monday, April 27, 2020